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Can you wash shoes in the washing machine?

Clothestip | 5 minute read |

Yes, you can wash shoes in the washing machine. While the thought of your sneakers banging around your drum may not sound so appealing, it’s better than laboriously hand-scrubbing them in the sink. But that said, it’s not as simple as just throwing them in there.

Gentle washing is key in entrusting your favourite pair to your washing machine. Do also remember that being thorough is key since they’re frequently exposed to dirt, mud, sweat, and oils.

Check both of those boxes by doing the pre-work, using the right settings and choosing the right washing machine. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effortlessly and confidently wash shoes in the washing machine.

Which shoes are machine washable?

No one shoe cleaning method fits all. Always check the care label first because some might need special care or hand cleaning like those made of leather, suede, vinyl and rubber. Dress shoes like heels or sandals with silk, satin, beading or other embellishments should be taken to a professional cleaner.

Can you wash sneakers in the washing machine? If they’re made from canvas, nylon, cotton and polyester, yes. Like your usual laundry, trainers, running shoes or tennis shoes with these materials are durable enough to withstand the spinning motion of the washing machine. But the delicate and expensive items like your jacket  and shoes you need proper care so that they won’t be accidently harmed.

Here are quick guides:

  • Step 1: Prep your shoes
  • Step 2: Bag the laces 
  • Step 3: Hand-wash the insoles
  • Step 4: Clean the soles
  • Step 5: Load your shoes
  • Step 6: Select machine settings
  • Step 7: Air-dry

What you need

  • Liquid detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Mesh garment bag or pillowcase
  • Shoe cleaner
  • Rag or soft brush
  • Sponge
  • Old towels


How to wash shoes in the washing machine

Step 1: Prep your shoes

Step 1: Prep your shoes

Simple prep work can give your machine a boost and accelerate the whole process. Separate laces, insoles, and any other removables to ensure every part of your shoes gets cleaned. Shake off any debris and scrub at the crevices like the eyelets using a small brush. Stubborn dirt can be washed off under the tap.

Step 2: Bag the laces

Place them in a mesh bag or a pillowcase that’s securely closed to prevent tangling in the drum. For heavily stained laces, you can hand-wash them with laundry detergent and a soft brush. Mix these in the load with your shoes later.

Step 3: Hand-wash the insoles

Unless stated in the care instructions, it’s recommended to wash insoles by hand. They’re usually made of synthetic materials like rubber and foam that can be damaged in the washing machine. Be thorough enough to remove sweat and odours that the insoles have absorbed. You have two options:

Dish soap or laundry detergent

Mix either dish soap or laundry detergent with warm water. With this solution, scrub both sides of your insoles using a stiff brush. Focus on the heel and toe areas where most dirt builds up. Rinse the insoles thoroughly, then air-dry.

Baking soda

For a more effortless option, sprinkle baking soda on your insoles and let it sit overnight to absorb stubborn smells. You can also place them in a sealed container to be more efficient. Simply brush off the baking soda the next day.

Step 4: Clean the soles

Dirty soles can make your shoes look more worn than they actually are. Pre-clean them and just let your washing machine do the final touches. Shake or scrape off caked-on dirt. Use a shoe cleaner to scrub at any scuff marks, then wipe with a damp cloth.

Step 5: Load your shoes

Step 5. Load your shoes

You don’t want to hear your shoes slamming against your drum which could potentially damage your washing machine. Place them in a mesh bag or a pillowcase to contain them and lessen the noise. To the load, add about four to six old towels to further buffer the tumbling motion. Best to not use new ones so their dye doesn’t bleed and stain your shoes.

Step 6: Select machine settings

Go low and slow. Think of your shoes as your delicate garments that may shrink, fade their colours, or be damaged in high temperatures and fast spin speeds. Set your washing machine on a cool delicate cycle with a slow or no-spin action. And use liquid detergent or laundry pods because powder products may stick on your shoes if not properly dissolved.

Step 7: Air-dry

Step 7. Air-dry

Not every materials are safe in the dryer. Instead of tumble drying your shoes, air-dry them to avoid damage, otherwise, spinning them in a hot drum will warp them and melt their glue. Stuff some clean rags or paper towels inside your kicks to maintain their shape and absorb excess moisture. Wait for a few days for it to fully dry, and you’re good to go.

Read more How to wash and dry pillow in washing machine here.

Tips on how to get the best clean for your shoes?

  1. For a safer cycle with less noise, wrap your shoes with towels even before putting them in the mesh bag. If your shoes are light coloured, the old towels should be too.
  2. Too much detergent will leave your shoes stained and stiff. A regular dose will do the job.
  3. Always use a cool setting. Don’t expose your shoes to high heat to prevent shrinkage and damage. When drying, only air-dry.
  4. Only return the insoles once they’re fully dried, otherwise, trapped moisture will create an unpleasant smell. It may take days for some insoles to dry. Speed up this process by patting them with a sponge.
  5. Don’t place your shoes under the sun to dry since the harsh heat could fade the colours. Instead, dry them in a shaded area, a well-ventilated area indoors, or near a refrigerator vent or fan to speed up the process. It may take 12 hours. You can also improve airflow by pulling the tongue out to open the shoe.

Finally, after washing your shoes, you should clean your washing machine as your shoes may leave a lot of dirt inside the drum.

Clean and protect

Shoes or sneakers can be a big investment, serving as collectibles or as the focal point of your outfits. Properly maintaining them is essential — but not difficult, especially when you have Electrolux washing machines on your side.

Like how they treat your delicates, they’re innovated to clean your kicks by effectively eliminating dirt while still protecting them. Gentle cleaning and efficient performance — the perfect pairing for your favourite pairs.

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